I think one of the best tools we have as humans is the ability to feel empathy. The world would be a better place if we were all capable of finding that place within ourselves to help another person feel that they are not alone and that someone else understands what their soul is going through. The good news is that you don’t have to go to years of graduate school to learn how to do this.
Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of another person. When that person is your other half, the importance of empathy cannot be understated. Having empathic experiences and exchanges with the one you love is one of the best ways to bond.
Integrity is key to an empathic connection with someone else. If an outside or selfish agenda is in the mix, no one will grow or heal. The process is one of soothing the other’s pain by letting them know that you get it, and your opinion is not part of the process. Keep your focus on this dynamic and you will achieve the desired outcome.
In your relationship, understanding partnership consciousness is important to any empathic dialogue. When either of you is experiencing a difficult time, getting some support and understanding from the love of your life can make all the difference in the world. Just a few kind words about the emotions that are being felt in the room will help everyone feel better.
When you have a deep discussion like this, it is always good to make a light physical connection, for the power of touch is a part of empathic healing. Be open and honest and always tell the truth, but this is not a place for brutal honesty. Be soft and gentle about it if you have to suggest a course correction.
Wanting the other person to feel better is the essence of empathy. Being able to give fully and completely is a tool that will serve you well throughout your life and keep your connections strong. When you are empathetic with someone, it is a gift that goes in both directions.
Remember that you can’t feel what someone else is feeling if your emotions are high. You need to find a way to calm yourself before trying to engage in a meaningful conversation. Taking a few deep breaths and speaking softly and gently will help. You don’t have to be an expert to be empathic. You just have to care enough to listen with your heart as well as your ears.
Almost all of us have the ability to be empathic, and some can choose to turn it on and off. My suggestion is that you try to keep that sensitivity alive within you. Showing empathy to others is a gift to those around you and will provide you with positive feelings of self-worth.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a Los Angeles- and Santa Barbara-based psychotherapist, can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at psychologytoday.com or follow him on Twitter @BartonGoldsmith.